An Eastbournian Abroad with Ashley McMillan: Good tidings, festive wishes and a new year!

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Out with the old and in with the new. Welcome to 2012 everyone!

I’d imagine that by now, many New Year resolutions have been made. I’d also bet that a good many have also already been broken! Am I wrong?

The festive season always feels like it’s simply getting longer and longer and certainly those fine folk in the various marketing industries are doing nothing to shorten their opportunity to up the ante! That said, most of us aren’t complaining. There’s always something a little special about the Xmas period. It’s even been know to put a little spring in my step… on occasion!

Now, I have to say that since moving to Whistler, here in British Columbia’s mountains, the whole Xmas feel good factor has definitely made me take a revised stock of things. It’s not just for the kids, or at least not the ‘little ones’ I tell ya. The whole ‘white Xmas’ feeling and romantic ideology grabs a lot of people’s imagination. Everyone comes to Whistler looking to create their own special version of their ‘White Xmas’.

Imagine it, sleigh rides, horse drawn carriages, Xmas decorations everywhere around the village and village stroll area, beautiful white fluffy carpet underfoot an perhaps enjoy a few s’mores around the hotel fire (something of a North America campfire tradition – marsh mellow sandwiched between chocolate and Grahams crackers). The whole village has that Disneyland in winter feel about it. So who can help but get a little caught up in the romance of it all?!

But as much as everyone carries out their own Xmas traditions whilst here in resort, be it putting in a few turns on the ski hill before sitting down to a nice big turkey dinner or moving onto a nice restaurant or bar to celebrate their special ‘ski day’ with a few ‘appies’, the day comes and goes and before you know it, we’re all looking toward the new year.

I for one would have appreciated a few more days off to spend with my wife and friends, but the tourism industry in a resort town like ours doesn’t close for festivities and someone’s got to be there for everyone else’s needs. It’s a good thing that at least working in a resort town can be fun, especially as everyone that comes here to vacation is usually very happy to be here.

Let’s face it, they’re here to ski / board or bike in our mountains by and large. It’s not a ‘typical’ town with hundreds or thousands of stressed out workers, purely here for business reasons and perhaps fairly accused at times of being a little short on manners and courtesy and a little too quick to bark out their requests.

Everyone around here loves to interact and those who flock here to escape usually appreciate the fact that those who dwell here are perhaps a little more laid back than most, but knowledgeable of the local area and mountains and happy to share a story or two or even a bit of good advice. Conclusion – Everyone just wants to relax and have fun!

There were those families who shared a little of their Xmas glee with the staff (and the kids only too happy to tell everyone what Santa brought them) and those who were only too grateful to those running around after them during this very, very busy period to help create some special memories for them.

For those who came, it was a great time and hopefully everything that they had hoped for. For those who worked here, it was truly a testing week or two at times and most of us will have let out a little sigh of relief when all was said and done. That’s not to say that us local workers didn’t enjoy looking after everyone, or enjoy making their dreams and expectations (read ‘demands’) come true.

Nor does it mean than we didn’t manage to enjoy our own festivities, but it left many of us looking forward to a good break or vacation. I know I can barely wait to escape to a warm climate – anywhere, and simply sit back and relax. Ok, so that’s not exactly in my nature as what I’m actually trying to do is combine this idea with some warm weather training as I ramp up my fitness levels ahead of the various mountain races and marathons around Spring time.

So now that the New Year is upon us, what has it brought us so far? Well, around here, plenty of snow for one! Now that some of the crowds have abated, for a while anyway although the town is still ‘full’, many a local has proclaimed that they have their mountains back again.

T’is true that the same thing is uttered every year at this time and that is because in all honesty, if you live and work here and don’t have all day to leisurely move around the mountains, then the Xmas week and its heavy travelling hordes can slow down traffic in parts. With this in mind, some will even avoid going up the hill until the ‘Xmas crowd’ has disappeared once again.

So are the days of busy, bustling hotels, restaurants and bars behind us already? Let’s hope not as although it may have been a while since we’ve seen the town this busy, its times like these that sustain everyone’s way of life here.

Will this 2011/12 ski season prove to be one of the best yet – only time will tell? For everyone’s sake, let’s hope that the snow keeps coming in its current volume, dump after dump after bountiful dump.

This, together with some clever marketing and accurate pricing should hopefully keep everyone coming up the ‘sea to sky’ highway to share their wealth and enthusiasm with all the fine folk living in this, their adopted home.

Cheers and best wishes for the New Year!